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Georgia county enlists help in search for new police chief

March 13, 2021 GMT

BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) — Leaders of a coastal Georgia county say they’re enlisting expert help in their search for a new chief to lead the county’s embattled police department.

Glynn County commissioners said the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police and the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives will work together to vet candidates for the police chief’s job.

Glynn County police have faced harsh criticism for failing to make arrests in the February, 2020, fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, a young Black man pursued and slain by a white father and son who assumed he was a burglar. They were charged two months later when the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case.

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A few days after Arbery’s killing, then-Chief John Powell was indicted along with three former high-ranking Glynn County officers on charges that they ignored an officer’s affair with a drug informant. There also have been claims of unjustified shootings by the department’s officers.

Glynn County Commissioner David O’Quinn said the two organizations assisting in the police chief search have expertise in finding top quality candidates.

“Glynn County residents should be reassured that Glynn County will make its final choice from candidates who were able to withstand the joint rigorous vetting process and were able to rise to the top,” Quinn said in a news release.

The alleged problems within the department prompted Georgia lawmakers last year to approve a referendum that would have let voters decide whether to abolish Glynn County police and turn the agency’s duties over to the sheriff. The effort was blocked by a judge before the November election.

Powell was replaced as chief, by Jay Wiggins, who retired in January.